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Sharon Randall: Pillow talk

By Sharon Randall

I changed the sheets in the guest room, hung clean towels in the bathrooms and fluffed all the pillows on the sofas.

I placed fresh flowers — sprigs of blue lavender, red and yellow dahlias and big smiley faces of sunflowers — on the table in the dining room, the window sill in the kitchen and a few other places in need of brightening.

My husband and I each made trips to the market and bought enough food to feed a small, starving army: Salmon and sirloin and chips and dips and fruits and veggies to add to a load of zucchini and tomatoes from my sister-in-law’s garden.
We spent an hour just trying to fit it all in the fridge.

He will do the grilling. I’ll peel 10 pounds of potatoes, cry my eyes out chopping onions and mix it all up into the kind of potato salad my mother was famous for making. Hers was better. I don’t know why.

For dessert, I bought a birthday cake (layered with whipped cream and topped with marzipan, oh my.) There was a time once, long ago, when I’d have baked a cake myself.

This is not that time.

Instead, I’ve decided now is the time in my life to do what I can, let the rest go, count my blessings and enjoy being alive.

I like it a lot. I wish I’d decided to do it sooner. If you’ve not tried it, you might want to start.

Twelve years ago, when my husband’s job changed, we left the house where I had raised my children on the coast of California and moved to the desert outside Las Vegas.

Our kids (my three, his two and their others) often visited us in Vegas, and we made dozens of trips back to be with them.
It was good. We were happy. Then came grandkids. Six, so far. The oldest is 7, the youngest is 1. Every time we see them, it gets harder to say goodbye.

Finally, my husband retired. And last month we moved back to California, to a house I never dreamed I’d live in again. So tonight we are having a party.

The cake I bought is inscribed “Happy birthday, Nate.” He’s my baby, the youngest of my three. There isn’t room on the cake for all his candles, so I’ll do one each for past, present and future, plus one “to grow on.”

He and his wife and their three babes live a few blocks away.

My daughter and her husband and their 6-year-old also live nearby. She’s bringing her famous rice salad. (I could make it, but hers will be better.)

And my oldest and his fiancee are driving up from L.A.

It’ll be the first time in 12 years we’ve all been together in the old house where they grew up. For me, it’s quite a gift. And I intend to celebrate.

We never know where life will lead us. When it leads to a good place, I like to throw a party.

So tonight we will eat and drink and talk and laugh and remember a lot of good times.

We’ll sit outside in the fog on folding chairs because there’s barely enough room inside for us all. My husband will grill. My girls will talk. My boys will tease each other. And my grandkids will run wild, as all children should, chasing each other, wrestling their uncle and cuddling a bit with their nana.

A good time will be had by one and all. Especially by me.

The time will pass too quickly, as the best of times always do.

When they leave to go back to their own lives, my husband and I will stand waving goodbye the way my grandparents always did, until they’re out of sight.

Tomorrow, or the next day, we will clean out the fridge, eat what we can of the leftovers and throw out the rest.

We’ll change sheets, wash towels, toss dead flowers and look forward to next time.

But I am thinking I might wait a while to fluff the pillows on the sofas. Somehow, I like looking at all those dents.

Sharon Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 416, Pacific Grove, CA 93950, or www.sharonrandall.com.



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